Information below was obtained from the 2012 U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Report.

Fact Sheet

  • By 2009, at least 76% of students attending for-profit colleges where enrolled in a school owned by either a publicly-traded company or owned by a private equity firm.
  • Students at for-profit institutions represent only 12% of all post-secondary school students, however the for-profit sector received $32 billion in 2009-2010, accounting for 25% of the total Department of Education student aid program funds.
  • Pell grants flowing to for-profit colleges increased at twice the rate of the program as a whole, increasing from $1.1 billion in the 2000-2001 school year to $7.5 billion in the 2009-2010 school year.
  • 96% of for-profit students take out student loans, according to the 2012 U.S. Senate report.  In comparison, 13% of students at community colleges, 48% at 4-year public schools, and 57% at 4-year private, non-profit colleges borrow money to pay for school.
  • Despite aggressive marketing to lower income populations, for-profit schools enroll far more high-dollar borrowers.  57% of Bachelor’s students who graduate from a for-profit college owe at least $30,000 in debt.  In contrast, only 25% of those who earned a Bachelor degree at private, non-profit schools and only 12% from public schools borrowed this much money.
  • In 2009, 41% of for-profit schools’ revenue went to marketing and profit, and just 17% went to the actual instruction of students.  Overall, for-profit schools spend less than a third of what public universities spend on educating students.
  • An examination of 30 for-profit schools indicated that in 2010, these for-profit schools averaged about one recruiter for every 53 students attending a for-profit college
  • For-profit colleges gather contact information of prospective students, or “leads,” by paying third-party companies known as “lead generators” that specialize in gathering and selling the information.  Lead generators advertise themselves as a free, safe, and reliable way to get information about college, but lead generator web sites generally direct students only to schools and programs that pay them, and have a history of engaging in online marketing using aggressive and misleading methods.
  • Military service members, veterans, spouses, and family members have become highly attractive prospects to for-profit colleges, and many schools have put significant resources into recruiting and enrolling students eligible for GI Bill and other educational benefits.
  • Overall, more than a quarter of all for-profit schools receive at least 80% of their revenues from tax-payer funded federal aid. The top 15 publicly-traded for-profit schools alone took in 86% of their revenues from federal aid. Eight of these schools have a physical presence in Massachusetts.   
  • There are nearly 200 private occupational non-degree granting schools licensed in Massachusetts, the vast majority of which are for-profit schools. There are about a dozen degree-granting for-profit schools currently located in Massachusetts.
  • In 2008, the state auditor estimated that 45,000 Massachusetts students attended for-profit vocational schools.